Netherlands’ criteria far too wide open
A correspondent (February 24) writes about assisted dying.
He claims to have seen how the Netherlands’ system works, two inlaws having had assisted deaths when in the later stages of terminal illnesses.
He states that he feels that their system has the right checks and balances, that with stringent controls people should be able to determine their own time of death.
Perhaps the correspondent should acquaint himself with the guidelines of interpreting the 2002 Euthanasia Act issued by the Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG) in June 2011.
Those guidelines now include ‘‘mental and psychological ailments’’ such as ‘‘loss of function, loneliness and loss of autonomy’’ as acceptable criteria for euthanasia.
The guidelines also allow doctors to connect a person’s ‘‘lack of social skills, financial resources and a social network’’ to ‘‘unbearable and lasting suffering’’, opening the door to legal assisted death based on psychosocial factors.
The position paper, titled The Role of the Physician in the Voluntary Termination of Life, concludes that the ‘‘concept of suffering’’ is ‘‘broader’’ than its ‘‘interpretation and application by many physicians today’’:
Included in a broader interpretation would be ‘‘disorders affecting vision, hearing and mobility, falls, confinement to bed, fatigue, exhaustion and loss of fitness’’ says the authors. ‘‘The patient perceives the suffering as interminable, his existence meaningless and - though not directly in danger of dying from these complaints - neither wishes to experience them, nor, insofar as his history and values permit, to derive meaning from them.
‘‘It doesn’t always have to be a physical ailment. It could be the onset of dementia or psychological problems, it’s still unbearable and lasting suffering. It doesn’t always have to be a terminal disease,’’ according to Dr Niewenhuijzen Kruseman, then chairman of KNMG on Radio Netherlands Worldwide.
With criteria as wide open as this, why would the correspondent be at all concerned with stringent controls, checks and balances in New Zealand?
Why not go straight to the inevitable? Timaru
David Seymour’s End Of Life Choice Bill is currently before Parliament. A writer has questioned a previous correspondent’s reference to the system in the Netherlands. PHOTO: STUFF